Leading article: An inevitable response

Share
Related Topics

The news that the United States has boosted the missile defences of a number of Gulf states, including the United Arab Emirates, Qatar, Bahrain and Kuwait, offers fresh, if depressing, confirmation of the failure of Barack Obama's initiative to put relations with Iran on a new footing. It is no secret that these early warning radar systems are intended primarily to counter Iranian attacks in the event of a possible military conflict with Tehran. It is back to business as usual, in other words, with the threat of war-war replacing a brief, fruitfless try at jaw-jaw.

It was only a year ago that the new US president hoped to make Iran an example of a new foreign policy based on dialogue rather than the "big stick" approach favoured by George Bush. How long ago that seems. The onus for the failure of Mr Obama's attempt at doveish diplomacy lies with the Ahmadinejad regime. It calculated it had more to lose than gain at home if it allowed the tension with the Great Satan to relax, and so rebuffed him. America's reversion to a policy of military containment backed up by tightened sanctions was therefore inevitable and has been fleshed out recently by President Obama in his State of the Union address, by Hillary Clinton, the Secretary of State, and by General Petraeus, head of US Central Command.

None of this means Washington now considers military action against Iran inevitable, likely or desirable. On the contrary, the White House hopes arms sales to the Gulf states will convince Israel that a pre-emptive military strike aimed at disabling Iran's nuclear ambitions is unnecessary.

There is a logic to this argument. Yet it is hard to feel much confidence in the benign outcome of what amounts to an arms race. Nor is it certain that Iran will draw the intended conclusions from this build-up. The most worrying thing about Iran is that it is weak and strong at the same time. It is a regional superpower, thanks to the eclipse of Iraq, yet the government is also becoming afraid of its own population and is increasingly paranoid and unpredictable in consequence. Whether the new military muscle of the pro-Western Gulf states that Tehran despises will act as a restraining factor on Iran remains to be seen.

React Now

Latest stories from i100
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Professional Sales Trainee - B2B

£15000 - £30000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: First things first - for the av...

Recruitment Genius: Creative Web and UI Designer

£30000 - £35000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: An experienced creative web and...

Recruitment Genius: Web Developer - PHP

£17000 - £24000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: An exciting opportunity is now ...

Recruitment Genius: Account Executive - Graduate / Entry Level

£22000 - £27500 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This digital advertising infras...

Day In a Page

Read Next
 

Caitlyn Jenner's first shoot is a victory - but is this really best version of femininity we can aspire to?

Sirena Bergman
The sun balances next to St Albans Church in Earsdon, North Tyneside.  

The world’s nations have one last chance to slow climate change

Michael McCarthy
On your feet! Spending at least two hours a day standing reduces the risk of heart attacks, cancer and diabetes, according to new research

On your feet!

Spending half the day standing 'reduces risk of heart attacks and cancer'
Liverpool close in on Milner signing

Liverpool close in on Milner signing

Reds baulk at Christian Benteke £32.5m release clause
With scores of surgeries closing, what hope is there for the David Cameron's promise of 5,000 more GPs and a 24/7 NHS?

The big NHS question

Why are there so few new GPs when so many want to study medicine?
Big knickers are back: Thongs ain't what they used to be

Thongs ain't what they used to be

Big knickers are back
Thurston Moore interview

Thurston Moore interview

On living in London, Sonic Youth and musical memoirs
In full bloom

In full bloom

Floral print womenswear
From leading man to Elephant Man, Bradley Cooper is terrific

From leading man to Elephant Man

Bradley Cooper is terrific
In this the person to restore our trust in the banks?

In this the person to restore our trust in the banks?

Dame Colette Bowe - interview
When do the creative juices dry up?

When do the creative juices dry up?

David Lodge thinks he knows
The 'Cher moment' happening across fashion just now

Fashion's Cher moment

Ageing beauty will always be more classy than all that booty
Thousands of teenage girls enduring debilitating illnesses after routine school cancer vaccination

Health fears over school cancer jab

Shock new Freedom of Information figures show how thousands of girls have suffered serious symptoms after routine HPV injection
Fifa President Sepp Blatter warns his opponents: 'I forgive everyone, but I don't forget'

'I forgive everyone, but I don't forget'

Fifa president Sepp Blatter issues defiant warning to opponents
Extreme summer temperatures will soon cause deaths of up to 1,700 more Britons a year, says government report

Weather warning

Extreme summer temperatures will soon cause deaths of up to 1,700 more Britons a year, says government report
LSD: Speaking to volunteer users of the drug as trials get underway to see if it cures depression and addiction

High hopes for LSD

Meet the volunteer users helping to see if it cures depression and addiction
German soldier who died fighting for UK in Battle of Waterloo should be removed from museum display and given dignified funeral, say historians

Saving Private Brandt

A Belgian museum's display of the skeleton of a soldier killed at Waterloo prompts calls for him to be given a dignified funeral